Fastest Growing Tree Safe for Horses - North West Georgia

Asked May 1, 2017, 9:32 AM EDT

We tend to have two and three month periods of drought each year. Sun is hot and the soil is clay with the ongoing natural fertilizing of horse manure which is raked and spread. I need three good shade trees that will grow quickly and will be protected with fencing during its early years from the horses leaning on them and eating at the leaves. Finding many of the trees they recommend in your typical nursery is almost impossible. River Birch, Elms etc. They don't carry them. Any other recommendations. Also need a good fast growing shade tree which will be outside pasture...but still a potential for some minor horse exposure.

Bartow County Georgia

1 Response

Thank you for contacting Extension with your questions about fast-growing shade trees. Another consideration when selecting shade trees is their potential toxicity to horses and other livestock. For example, red maple, black cherry, and oak species should be avoided due to their potential toxicity to horses.

Trees such as Lacebark Elm, Princeton Elm, River Birch, Tulip Tree/Yellow Poplar, and Green Ash make excellent shade trees and are not a concern as far as toxicity to horses. These trees are commonly found at local nurseries such as Buck Jones Nursery and Twin Branch Nursery near Woodstock, GA. These and other recommended shade trees are listed in our UGA publications online:
http://www.walterreeves.com/uploads/pdf/fasttree.pdf
http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=C1013

If you are considering any other tree species, you should double check them for any known toxicities by searching the NCSU website for plants known to be poisonous to livestock:
http://harvest.cals.ncsu.edu/applications/plant_biology/poisonous/

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact our office at any time.